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Jumper by John Powell


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Jumper (Soundtrack) by John Powell

Composed by John Powell
Lakeshore Records (2008)

Rating: 6/10

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Listen to this soundclip of Jumper by John PowellMy Day So Far (356 kb)

Listen to this soundclip of Jumper by John PowellColiseum Tour (354 kb)

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Coliseum Fight (354 kb)

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“There is one thing JOHN POWELL can rarely be accused of and that is being lazy. He continues to re-invent himself and appears to still be reaching deep within some infinite reserve of creativity. JUMPER is not his best effort, but the music has more to it than first meets the ears.”

Christian Haydensen as David (Jumper)Jumping to Conclusions
Review by Christopher Coleman

With the team of director/producer DOUG LIMON and composer JOHN POWELL, who have collaborated quite successfully on THE BOURNE series, one would expect true audio fireworks for a film like JUMPER. JUMPER might seem like your typical late-Summer release featuring a teenie-bopper-hearthtrob playing the lead in a high-energy, special-effect thrill-ride. In certain years, Jumper might be just that, but with a jam-packed Summer-schedule which includes: INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL, IRON MAN, THE DARK KNIGHT and THE INCREDIBLE HULK, it would have had a pretty hard time at the box office. So the film finds itself released pretty early on in 2008. Now, I have to admit that the February release date lowered my expectations (how many great flicks come out in February?) But these low expectations ended up serving my viewing experience positively. JUMPER wasn't as bad as I had anticipated nor as bad as so many critics have declared. But how does the score fair? some JOHN POWELL scores are easily appreciated at first hearing, while others take a bit of time and more careful listening in order to hear and appreciate the details. Such is the case with JUMPER. Upon first listen, JUMPER may seem to be an incoherent mashup of the acoustic and the electronic, of the western and the eastern, but with time invested, one will discover a number of subtle motifs and themes sometimes weaved, sometimes layered, and, yes, sometimes even clashed together.

JUMPER tells the story of a young man, David, who has a special ability to instantly teleport anywhere in the world he desires. He discovers his gift as a teenager and then, over the years, learns how to control his newfound ability. As he hones his skill, he is able to transform his life of hardship to one of luxury and instant-travel to any desired location in the world. (As I write this, I sit on a crowded airplane, truly wishing this teleporting business was a reality.)  Now, there are a group of zealots who apparently are diametrically opposed to those who have been given such a gift and have, through the ages, hunted down those they call "jumpers." While wooing his former, high-school crush, David must avoid being permanently "grounded" by one of these anti-jumpers, or Paladins, named Roland. And thus JUMPER gives us a nice foundation for ample thematic material and decent action cues.

JOHN POWELL's score for JUMPER treads along the lines of his music from The Bourne series, but is more aggressive in spots and has a bit more "personality" to it. Admittedly, while watching the film I found myself mostly conscious of the numerous electronic elements and occasional blast of electric guitar. But in-between and down-below all of the in-yo-face-material, is the truly interesting stuff. JOHN POWELL's score includes a variety of Eastern and/or Middle-eastern string instruments including the cimbalom and something akin to a sitar.  It's difficult to tell just what instruments are being used due to, what sounds like, electronic processing of these instruments.  He uses them with fair effectiveness for at least two of the score's main themes: David's theme and Millie's/Love Theme. The use of these eastern instruments play in stark contrast to the number of electronics employed and seem to hint at the ancient existence of both the Jumpers and Paladins, who are dedicated to eradicating them. For the character of David, Powell delivers a two themes.  Within the theme is a frequently employed, pensive 8-note motif usually played in a mandolin-like manner.  This is first heard in "First Jumps" (3), but can be found all throughout the score.  David's second and more musical representation is a simple 6-note motif played on something akin to a harp or sitar (check tracks 4, 7, 11). Powell's theme for Millie (or the love theme) is strummed on guitar and echoed by the string section and rather than convey joyous, romantic love, the theme is tinged with sadness (tracks 9, 14). At almost the end of the film and soundtrack we hear another understated theme as we get a glimpse of a budding, complicated relationship between David and his mother - one that is begging to be explored in a possible sequel.

When it comes to action cues, we all know the Powell rarely has a problem there. Early on the the action is somewhat subdued and is reflected in the score.  From track 3, "First Jumps" through "You Hear Me Laughing?" (8), the music builds tension more than it expresses full-blown action.  The action cues in the latter half of the soundtrack are bursting at the seams. "Coliseum Fight" (10) boasts some unforgettable blasts of brass, strings, and some wonderfully-over-the-top acoustic drums. Things reach a similar fever pitch in "Jumper VS. Jumper" (18) which has some Don Davis/Juno Reactor/ Burly Brawlisms clearly going on.  Yet for all the electronic tension and freneticsm, the two most embraceable cues are the first and the last: "My Day So Far" (1) and "Jump Off" (21) where each track is based off of a strong, heroic theme that could end up being a series/franchise theme.

Fans of THE BOURNE series will likely find JUMPER an interesting listen. JOHN POWELL certainly let's loose a bit more for this 2008 score and the end result of that will probably be enjoyed by some and disliked by others. There is one thing JOHN POWELL can rarely be accused of and that is being lazy. He continues to re-invent himself and appears to still be reaching deep within some infinite reserve of creativity. JUMPER is not his best effort, but the music has more to it than first meets the ears. Give it a few attentive listens before you make your final call on it.

Rating: 6/10

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Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 My Day So Far 1:03  ****
2 Splash 1:30  ***
3 First Jumps 1:37  ***
4 Bridges, Rules, Banking 3:24  ****
5 Surf's Up 1:11  ***
6 1000 Volts 3:47  ***
7 Roland Snoops 1:43  ***
8 You Hear Me Laughing? 1:01  **
9 Coliseum Tour 1:46  ***
10 Coliseum Fight 2:24  ***
11 Echo of Mom 0:49  ***
12 Airport Departure 1:58  ***
13 In Hospital 0:56  ***
14 It's Sayonara 0:56  ***
15 Race to Mille 1:24  ***
16 David Comes Clean 3:23  **
17 Roland at the Lair 4:55  **
18 Jumper Versus Jumper 2:18  ***
19 The Sacrifice 4:44  ***
20 A Head Start 1:43  ***
21 Jump Off 1:36  ****
  Total Running Time (approx) 44 minutes  




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